Plants flowering later on the Tibetan Plateau

Shorter growing season linked to warmer winters on ‘the roof of the world’. In many regions, climate change has advanced the timing of spring events, such as flowering or the unfolding of leaves. But the meadows and steppes of the Tibetan Plateau are bucking that trend — plants are starting to bloom later in spring, making the growing season shorter. This change could threaten the livelihood of the thousands of nomads who survive by raising cattle on the plateau. “I’ve … Read more…

US polar bears mark their territory

More than two years after Alaskan polar bears were given a protection status of “threatened species” by the US Endangered Species Act, the Obama administration set aside on Wednesday 24 November 484,330 sq kilometres — twice the size of the UK — in Alaska as “critical habitat”. Almost all of the area is offshore sea ice habitat — where polar bears spend most of their time hunting seals, breeding and travelling—in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska’s northern coast. It … Read more…

Taxonomy in Trouble in Canada

Canada is at risk of losing its taxonomic expertise, according to a report released today. The report details stagnant research funding, greying experts, a lag in digitization and a lack of support for national collections. This is threatening Canada’s understanding of its biodiversity, and the ecosystem services it provides, the report concludes. “Canadian contributions to describing new species has dropped from being 6th in the world to 14th in the last decade,” says Thomas Lovejoy, Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for … Read more…

Canada’s climate bill flattened

“Spitting mad,” is how the Victoria Times Colonist described Andrew Weaver, a climate modeller at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, following the news that Canada’s climate change bill had been defeated in the Senate late on Tuesday. “Retiring with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s sounds good right now,” Weaver said. The Climate Change Accountability Act called for greenhouse gas emissions cuts with a short-term target of 25% below the 1990 level by 2020, and a long-term target of 80% below … Read more…

Cold cash for cold science

The recent funding wrap-up from the international polar year (IPY) has left many Canadian researchers scratching their heads, trying to find a way to continue their arctic science projects. A new grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada may help close that research-funding gap. In its announcement yesterday, NSERC opened a competition to fund large-scale research with a focus—for this round of funding—on northern earth systems. The Discovery Frontiers initiative will heft Can$4 million over five years … Read more…